UAF production of Pride and Prejudice goes virtual

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 4:15 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Nearly a year and a half after auditions, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Theatre and Film Department’s production of “Pride and Prejudice” has been recorded virtually for audiences.

The show was originally scheduled to run in March and April of last year. Director Rebecca George said the show was close to being finished when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “It was right before spring break. We had done all the rehearsing, everything was ready to go for tech week, all of the sets and the costumes and everything was getting ready to be tied together, so we went away for spring break expecting to come back from spring break and do tech and then open that next weekend, and we never came back from spring break.”

Luke Williams, who plays the character of Darcy, was frustrated when he heard that the show was being postponed indefinitely. “Not upset at anyone in particular, I just was frustrated with the situation we found ourselves in, and was struggling to cope with that.”

Actress Isabelle Nygren echoed that sentiment, saying, “It was disappointing, more so for my Mom than me, maybe... She’s a big Jane Austen fan.”

The show was continually delayed as the full scope of the pandemic became clear. George said, “We realized we were probably never going to get on the stage within the next year. We wanted to work with the same group that had put so much work into it already, so we had to do it as soon as possible and decided to do this virtual production.”

Williams said, “I was talking with my teachers and I was saying, ‘Hey, if we can make this go, I’m going to make it happen. I want this to happen. I am here for this. Let’s get this show going. I don’t want all of our time and our rehearsal time gone to waste.’ I wanted something to come out of it at least.”

According to George, planning began for the virtual production around Christmas break. Because of the delay, some of the cast had to be shuffled around and new members added.

Nygren took on the role of Elizabeth Bennet when production resumed, having understudied for the role when it was set to go live. “Every actor got technical experience, because we were like working with the tech crew to position lamps,” she said.

Costumes, props and backdrops were provided to the actors, who recorded their parts at home. George explained, ”We met on Zoom, where we had rehearsed, and then we would do the takes. We would do the recording as if we were all in the room, in the Zoom room, so they were acting and reacting off of each other, and all together in the same take for the scene, just in their own room.”

Williams said the process of virtually performing was tricky. “On stage, there’s usually the sense of where your fellow actors are, where the audience is, where your place on stage is, all the blocking and everything. It all makes sense. It’s all very grounded and realistic; but when it’s Zoom, everything is through the camera.”

Nygren explained that when acting on Zoom, performers had to look into the camera rather than at their fellow actors. “What you need to do is train yourself to look at the camera and watch actors from the periphery, but you’re missing out on all those microexpressions that you can really play off of.”

Kade Mendelowitz is constructing the video portions into a whole piece, while Flyn Ludington designs the sound.

The production can be viewed by purchasing a $10 viewing link on the UAF Theatre and Film Department website or Facebook page. The link, which is then sent via email, gives the purchaser 48 hours in which to view the production. These links will be available from April 16th to April 25th.

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